Studying With Two Kids: A Case Study
Adelina Hysenaj knows what it’s like to have to organise her time. The 32-year-old single mum is studying for a combined degree in educational studies and English, and looks after her two children on her own.
Although originally from Albania, Adelina now considers London to be her home. “Saying that, this university degree has been hard for me, partly because English is not my first language and partly because I’ve never studied in the English system before,” she says.
“Studying, having two children and being single make it very difficult to organise my time, and to organise my studies. But I believe that proper organisation is the key to getting things done, so I do everything I can to make sure that I’m organised.”
Getting Childcare SortedThe first thing Adelina had to worry about when she started studying as a mature student was getting her childcare sorted. Her daughter Keijsi is 11 and son Kleidi nine, so they are at school full-time. But they are still too young to be left on their own for any period of time.
“It’s lucky that most of the time I don’t have to worry about them, because when I’m at university they’re at school,” says Adelina. “I can leave them alone for an hour or so, but I would never go out in the evenings and leave them, or leave them in the day for any long period of time.
“Luckily, I can rely on my community for childcare, like the other Albanian mums in their school. We do favours for each other, which makes things a lot easier.
“If I want to go somewhere in the evenings, which is very rare, I can ask my brother. Money is tight for us and getting childcare can be very difficult because I cannot afford to pay for it myself.”
Making Use of EveningsMost evenings are when Adelina studies, usually after her children are in bed. “Sometimes the kids bother me, but not really. If I tell them I have to study, they usually leave me alone to do it. They’re old enough to understand how important it is,” she says.
“I am in a good pattern in the evenings. Often when they go to sleep, that’s when I read or write my essays. Sometimes I also manage to find time to get work done during the day as well, which helps.”
Another way Adelina gets things done is to organise her note-taking the right way. “During lectures I try to take notes according to what I need, and disregard the unimportant stuff,” she says.
“That’s often how I manage to finish things. I know what I need, so I can manage my time better.”
Getting Ready in AdvanceAdelina also makes use of the evenings to get everything ready for the following day, so that the mornings aren’t manic. “I always get organised the night before, and although I don’t have a diary I have everything straight in my head,” she says.
“I figure out what my priorities are, and get organised. That precludes me from having a mad rush in the mornings with the kids.
“It’s also good to have a car to drive, as without my car I’d be lost. I can pick up the children from school and get home quickly without having to wait around on public transport, and go directly where I need to go.”
Adelina thinks that on the whole, she has adapted quite well to her current situation, although she acknowledges that having slightly older children has made things easier than they could have been.
“I feel really comfortable with my life at the moment, and don’t really consider Britain to be a foreign country anymore, to be honest. At the moment, I could not imagine living somewhere else,” she says.
“I have great friends who are mainly mums, both English and Albanian, lots of them, and I am getting things done that need to get done. I just don’t take life all that seriously, which helps me achieve what I need to."